Is the woman above, perhaps, a reasonable assumption of how you might view the Bleat? She need only gesture at the great humming box, and its doors open to reveal the plenitude of sustenance within!
What if the fridge was empty, though? It could happen. lileks.com could run dry. I mean, I’m looking at the folder for 2022, and it’s kinda scant.
Just kidding! It’s bulging. If ever you see me, here’s a nice salutation: may you live long enough to post everything you’ve scanned.
Saturday I’m cleaning out the family room closet, doing triage on batteries and desiccated dog treats. Phone chimes in a way that says it’s Daughter. I hadn’t heard from her since Thursday, when she was getting ready for her 28-day trip around Brazil. They had to fly to get to the place where the trip began. It’s a big country. Well, let’s see what’s up . . .
. . . And I’m standing in the family room on a grey rote weekend afternoon, surrounded by all the crap I’d taken out of the closet, temporarily dissuaded from spraying down the recycling bins and cleaning the walls with the Magic Eraser, and I’m agog: she is having the best possible amazing life.
I text wow, where.
She sends a location, and I plug it into my maps on the phone; she’s on the north east coast of Brazil, and I can drill down to the very beach. Then the phone viberates: incoming video chat. I sit down and connect and smile - three chaotic seconds, and then it cuts out.
Text: Sorry that was an accident
Text: Not a good time sorry I know that must be depressing
Text: But I saw your smiling face for a second
Heart enables melting mode At this point I hear rustling downstairs, and Birch heads to the basement; wife is home. I hand her the phone, show her the video, and she sends a message. She uses the voice-transcription function, but doesn’t realize the interface is different on WhatsApp, so she sends a voice message complete with spoken punctuation - except halfway though the message she stops saying the “period” and “exclamation point” and seems to think inflection is sufficient, so the message contains the phrase:
“HOW FUN (downward inflection for period) DUNE BUGGIES” said with excess enunciation. So this immediately becomes the family in-joke for parental communiques, and just as I can say VONEGAR to Daughter to call back to the panicked call to get a tabouli reference, “HOW FUN. DUNE BUGGIES.” Is now a standard low-key response to anything.
HAHAHAHAHA is the last thing I get, and then WhatsApp doesn’t see her any more.
And then I go back to cleaning out the bins and the closet.
I put down some shelf paper under the bins. It looks nice.
It absolutely made my weekend. That brief ecstatic video, that heedless moment - it just shot a bright golden thread through everything.
This is a link to PayPal, where you can either throw a few shekels her way, or set up something recurring - say, you think this site is worth a buck a week, or more, or less. Up to you entirely. You know I will keep doing this regardless; I think that’s obvious.
What’s different here: all the money, save 10 percent (for site costs and shipping and handling and so on) goes to Natalie’s college. In return you will get a thank you from her - eventually. You will get a letter and a drawing and whatever else she comes up with.
And the Fridge will always be fun of something when you open it every day.
NOTE: It seems I set up a different paypal contribution site somehow, different from my old one. If you have already set up a recurring contribution, A) bless you, and B) all new additions to that site go to her college fund. So you're good! Heck, you're great.
Just because Clippings replaced the Serial feature doesn't mean you're getting off easy. Oh no, my friends. Not at all.
We start out with fire in the skies! Chaos on earth! Massed armadas in space, ready to destroy humanity and conquer the world!
No, actually, we start with two job applicants; they've been working on an atomic rocket! I wonder if they saw an ad in the paper.
Of course that's William Schallert, voice of every single commercial ever made in the 70s, interviewing for a job with Commando Cody’s boss, Mr. Henderson.
He’s in charge of all operations involving outer space. That was a job back then. You could knock off at noon, you might think - oh, no. We were fully rocketized, and dealing with other civilizations. As you'll see.
We learn that everything about space is so secret that Cody has to wear a mask at all times. He’s called “Commando” because he used to be a commando in “the last war.” Henderson gives them a tour, and we cut to Cody flying around.
(Sorry; old reference. When I saw the Rocketeer movie in DC many years ago, there was a small excited child who shouted WOCKETEAH! everytime he showed up. Never forgot that.)
Cody shows up and briefs the new job applicants: the meteors that hit the earth last year were actually missiles, but he’s developed a way of combating the threat:
That would be my reaction, too.
He says he’s been instructed to go on the offensive against the enemy forces, which are located “on one of the problems in our solar system.” But first they have to build a rocket.
Hell of a first day at work! First hour! Earth's in peril and we have to build an atomic rocket! Now!
Cody tells his associates they’ll be building the rocket in an old abandoned mining town, because it’s a Republic serial. The henchmen spot Cody - who’s easy to identify because he wears a mask to conceal his identity - and wait until he’s gone, then break in to look at the rocket plans. But a secret signal tells Cody they’re there, and he speeds back!
HATS ON FISTFIGHT
The henchmen win, and have an incredible opportunity: they can kill the man who stands in the way of their plot to conquer the world! Of course, they do nothing of the sort. They call the boss. And here's a good indication of the quantity of cheese this thing will deliver.
Turns out the Ruler wants to whup Earth so it can be used as a staging area for the conquest of other planets. Okay, sure.
Now it’s time to head out to Graphite, located nearby in the Republic backlot:
But the henchmen got there first, and infiltrated Graphite. They’ve employed the most ingenious listening device in the history of serials:
Now that they know what’s up, they report back to Varney, who reports to THE RULER, who’s surprised and horrified to learn that Cody is working on a rocket. It must be destroyed at once!
Mind you, the henchmen are just walking around this absolutely crucial installation at will without attempting to hide out. There’s no security at all. Because that would alert suspicion, I guess.
The henchmen have a gun battle with the good guys; they have two pistols, each of which holds about 40 rounds and one hench tries to destroy the rocket with a soldering gun, or something. Cody engages, Miss Joan the Scientist throws a grenade at the bad guys, who run away.
So THE RULER has one guy running the take-over-earth operation, and that guy has three employees.
Does Cody get additional security? Call in the Marines? No - because there are never more than 10 people in a serial, remember. Cody et al drives away AND THE HENCHMEN GO BACK TO THE BARN TO DESTROY THE ROCKET, because everyone is acting like utter idiots. At this point anyone watching this would be shouting for someone else to take over this save1the-Earth job, because the guy in charge is incredibly sloppy.
The henchmen manage to plant a bomb on the rocket, designed to blow up when it hits 30,000 feet.
WHY NOT JUST BLOW IT UP NOW
THAT’S YOUR JOB
The next day, it’s take-off time.
Yes, it’s our old Republic rocketship, with the office chairs.
I should mention that Miss Joan the Scientist goes back to Graphite and gets captured by the Agents of the Ruler.
Back on the ship, they’re going to take the rocket up higher. Remember, there’s a bomb!
Handy gauge to let the victims know where they stand.
Miss Joan the Scientist uses her badge / two-way radio to send a secret message, and lucky for Cody the Agents of the Ruler are talkative idiots:
"Wait, let's listen some more. He might tell us where he bought it, and the credit card number used, and we could exchange it for a refund. Ot at least store credit."
Cody finds the bomb, suits up, and does the Rocketeer act. Very careful bomb disposal work:
He ends up chasing the henchmen through the mine, and kills one with a grenade. Whew! Rocket’s safe, and everything’s okay.
You know, this has gone on for a half an hour, and there’s not much time left for the cliffhanger.
Why are they standing around? Where’s the peril?
WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? IT'S NOT A SERIAL? WHAT'S THE POINT?
That we'll learn over the course of the next 11 months. That's right: you won't know if the Ruler succeeds until next Christmas rolls around.
And yes, I've got it all in the can, just waiting. You've no choice. As I say about hiatuses and serials: you'll take it, and you'll like it.
PS Hope you like it
PSSST: THAT SUPPORT BUTTON. Remember, all money minus 10% goes to Daughter's College Fund.